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Ballard looking for new CEO with technology company experience - Yahoo! News

Ballard Power Systems Inc. is looking for a new chief executive with a technology background to ensure the fuel cell maker meets its development targets, the company's interim chief said Wednesday.

John Sheridan said the new boss doesn't have to be an executive with specific fuel cell or automotive experience, but "we're talking about technology experience more broadly."

"For someone coming into this role that has not had experience in technology sectors, technology companies, I think that would be a big jump."

The search is expected to take about six months and will include both internal and external candidates, Sheridan said Wednesday in a conference call a day after Ballard reported a loss of $8.9 million US, or seven cents a share, for the three months ended Sept. 30.

The Vancouver-based fuel-cell developer, which keeps its records in U.S. dollars, said that was down markedly from a loss of $52.6 million, or 44 cents a share, a year ago.

Dennis Campbell left the top job at Ballard earlier this month on a decision by the board of directors. His departure followed a significant restructuring including the sale of Ballard Power Systems AG and a decision to cut about 100 jobs in a cost-cutting effort that the company expects will reduce its annual operating costs by 12 per cent.

Campbell joined Ballard from Home Care Industries, which describes itself as "the world's leading manufacturer of vacuum cleaner filter bags and related filtration products."

Though an aerospace engineer by training, Campbell's business experience had focused on manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution and he was widely seen as the executive who would bring fuel cells into commercial production.

The Vancouver-based company, which has lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, had once predicted it would break even by 2007.

"If you do go back in time with this company it is clear people in the company and experts in the field and pundits globally thought the fuel cell sector was going to develop faster than it has. The reality is it hasn't developed that fast," Sheridan said Wednesday.

Ballard's new chief executive will have to focus on meeting what the company describes as its technology road map and a target of 2010 for commercially viable fuel cell technology for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

"Over the next three years the critical thing to Ballard is execution, executing the technology road map, executing our product road maps. That's more product development than it is manufacturing," Sheridan said.

Helping boost Ballard's quarterly results was a $17.8-million gain from the sale of its German subsidiary Ballard Power Systems AG.

Quarterly revenue slipped to $16.1 million, down from $23.6 million in the third quarter last year.

The market cheered Tuesday's results sending the stock up 29 cents or about five per cent to $6.17 on the Toronto Stock Exchange in Wednesday afternoon trading.

At Sept. 30, Ballard had $203.8 million in cash and cash equivalents. In 2006, it expects operating cash burn to be in the range of $50 million to $70 million.

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Ballard looking for new CEO with technology company experience - Yahoo! News


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